broken clouds


Laguna Beach

Police Files

Tragedy strikes twice in Laguna on Saturday: Deaths have community in mourning

Alcohol suspected in fatal car crash on Saturday

On Saturday, July 14 at 8:55 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to a fatal injury traffic collision on Coast Highway and Country Club Drive, which resulted in the death of Francisco Rojas, 27, of Murrieta, and injured three other occupants in his vehicle, including his girlfriend, 22, and two children, ages 13 and 3, one confirmed to be his child.

 According to a LBPD investigation, Laguna Beach resident Marshall Glen Eichenauer, Jr., 57, was driving his Chevrolet Avalanche north on Coast Highway, near Aliso Beach, when he broadsided a Nissan Altima that was making an illegal left turn from Country Club Drive, directly in front of him.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said Eichenauer, the surviving driver, a South Laguna resident, was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

“Eichenauer displayed symptoms of alcohol intoxication. A DUI investigation was conducted and he was subsequently arrested for DUI. He consented to a blood test and we are awaiting results,” Sgt Cota said.

The results should be in within a week or so. 

The traffic collision investigation is still underway. LBPD traffic officers will be working with the OCDA’s office for the possible filing of charges. 

Coast Highway was closed for over four hours near the accident scene.

Eichenauer is the founder and president of a wealth management firm, Sagent Wealth Management, LLC located in Laguna Beach.

Swimmer dies despite rescue efforts at Thousand Steps Beach on Saturday

On Saturday, July 14 at 10:45 a.m., LBPD, LBFD and Marine Safety lifeguards responded to an unconscious swimmer pulled from the water at Thousand Steps Beach. 

“Lifeguards performed CPR and the person is unresponsive so far. Mercy Air is en route for transportation,” said Sgt Cota, as rescue efforts were occurring on Saturday.

Polices Files 7 17 18

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

OCFA helicopter Mercy Air takes an unresponsive swimmer in dire condition to Mission Hospital

“Our lifeguards responded to a victim in distress at 10:45 a.m. this morning [Saturday] and that person in the course of the rescue went unconscious and was not breathing,” said Jason Young, OC Lifeguards Chief. “Lifeguards were able to get him [the victim] to shore and extricate him up to the beach with the help of some bystanders. Our lifeguard personnel responded as well as fire.” 

Chief Young added, “Our lifeguards got to him, he was obviously struggling when the lifeguards got to him but he was alive.” 

A Mercy Air helicopter transported the victim to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo, where he was pronounced dead.

According to sources, the man was identified as Brian Riggs, 52, of Aliso Viejo.

“As far as the cause of what led up to the patient’s condition, the cause of death, I don’t think the coroner even knows that yet, they have to conduct their investigation,” Chief Young added.

“It’s very traumatic for the lifeguards that got to him. We obviously hoped for a different outcome,” Chief Young said. “We are taking care of our guards, we debrief with them and will be doing an after incident action review and looking at all the details. Getting help for anyone who needs it.”

A special edition of Police Files

Where the Wild Things Are…

Avid Stu News reader shaken by “tarantula-sized” cockroach

Hot of the press, yesterday at 11:04 p.m. in the Boat Canyon area of North Laguna, long-time resident Christopher Kling reported in a Stu News exclusive a horrific experience of the entomology variety. 

Kling said, “I thought I was all alone a couple days ago, sitting on the toilet, minding my own business, when an intruder the size of a tarantula, zipped into my bedroom from the bathroom. I was so mortified!”

The unwanted guest, a cockroach, was the size of a silver dollar coin, Kling said, and probably the biggest he had seen in his life.

“I told my neighbor about it, who reported back to me today, that he too had an intruder as well. Turns out the humidity is the culprit, and I want to confirm with all the neighbors that the roaches aren’t just at your place,” Kling said.

Keep your eyes peeled and beware, Laguna!

Police Files Cockroach

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the Internet

Cockroaches are on the rise in Laguna right now due to increased humidity

Extra-large raccoon and “wolves” reported on Catalina Street

On Sunday, July 8 at 9:41 p.m., at the 800 block of Catalina Street, a caller reported “a 30 lb. raccoon hanging around the house.” According to Wikipedia, the average raccoon weighs between 7.7 and 20 lbs, meaning this was a very large and well-fed raccoon.

A couple of days later, on July 10 at 9:21 p.m., also at the 800 block of Catalina, LBPD received a call from a resident about a “possible wolf” in their backyard. Moments later, the caller reported the “possible wolf” was now in their neighbors’ backyard.

Animal Services was notified of the incident via email…and rest is history/a mystery.

Duck, duck, geese, shoo them away please

Recently, at 9:19 a.m. at the 5500 block of Paseo Del Lago, a caller reported that geese were “defecating by the doors and [were] also near garages.” 

The caller went on to state that, “[the] Geese are not afraid of people and are coming very close to people.”

The resident requested further contact from Animal Services to resolve the situation. It is unknown what the next steps were.

Snaking around on the ground…those slithering snakes seem to abound

There have been at least five recent rattlesnake sightings reported locally, including one on Monday, July 9 at the 0 block of La Costa Court, and another one that day at the 900 block of Quivera Street; two on Thursday, July 5 – one at the 900 block of Park Avenue and one at the 3400 block of Bahia Blanca Way; and then two at the 3200 block of Bern Court within three days – one was an extra large snake and the other was likely a baby snake.

Police Files

Knifing on Laguna Beach trolley: argument escalates, juvenile reportedly stabs adult male

On Monday, July 11 at 3:55 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to 3rd Avenue and Coast Highway amidst reports of a stabbing that had just occurred on a city trolley. According to reports, a juvenile male stabbed an adult male during an argument that quickly escalated.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, the suspect, a juvenile out of South County, pulled out a 3” to 4” folding knife and stabbed the victim in the hand. The physical and verbal altercation continued and the suspect tried to climb out of a window, which caused it to break.

“Once on scene, two people were detained in handcuffs and officers were directed toward “Lovers Beach” where the suspect supposedly ran,” said Sgt Cota. “As more officers arrived, a search was conducted and more witnesses came forward to direct the officers to the suspect. 

“Two officers on the hillside above the beach tried to make contact with the suspect who was hiding in a cavern on the beach. The suspect eventually came out, although he initially acted as if he had no idea what was going on. When he realized he had no place to run, the officers were able to talk him up the hillside where he surrendered. 

“Due to the public safety concern, he was asked where he hid the knife and finally told the officers he buried it in the sand. An officer scaled the hillside to the beach and retrieved the knife. Through the course of the investigation, it appears he and his friend were on the trolley and possibly tried to rob two female juveniles of one of their backpacks. This initial incident occurred around Solana and South Coast Highway. The female juveniles resisted, got off the trolley, and contacted their parents.”

The injured adult male was treated for a small cut on his left hand. According to Sgt Cota, the male juvenile suspect was eventually taken into custody for assault with a deadly weapon and later transported to juvenile hall.

In addition to creating quite a scare for fellow trolley goers, the incident also snarled traffic in South Laguna for hours. A traffic alert from the City notified residents of delays on Southbound Coast Hwy “due to police activity” starting at 4:14 p.m. The delays lasted for at least two hours.

Skateboarder without helmet gets nailed and jailed for drugs and a slew of other crimes

On Saturday, July 7 at 9:52 p.m., an LBPD officer saw a skateboarder at Aster Street and North Coast Highway not wearing a helmet per the Laguna Beach Municipal Code. The officer contacted the male subject and advised him the reason for the stop. 

“Officers asked him if he was probation or parole and he said “Yes” and asked if he had to give his name,” Sgt Cota said. “Terms of his probation were to always cooperate with law enforcement and not refuse to provide information.”

The male subject, who did not have any identification on his possession, was taken into custody for not wearing a helmet while skateboarding.

Police Files GalloiscosenzaHe was later identified as Huntington Beach resident Beau Galloiscosenza, 29.

“A search of Galloiscosenza revealed heroin and a pipe with methamphetamine inside of it. Galloiscosenza also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for Battery with injuries,” Sgt Cota said. “Galloiscosenza was also in possession of several credit cards, not in his name, and a blank check in a large bag.” 

But that’s not all. Also inside the bag were stolen license plates that he allegedly took in Laguna Beach. 

Galloiscosenza was arrested for the outstanding warrant, possession of heroin and cocaine, possession of a narcotic pipe, and misappropriation of stolen property.

Bail was set at $20,000.

Trespassing juvie boys jump from 4th story into pool

On Saturday, July 7 at 9:26 p.m., in the 31500 block of Tablerock Drive, approximately four male juveniles, ages 12-16, were reported trespassing at the Tablerock Terrace Apartments. According to the RP, they were seen jumping from the 4th story into the pool with what “looked like cameras or GoPros in their mouth when they jumped.”

LBPD responded to the scene but the boys had already fled and were not located.   

Take heed pool-jumping boys, a Laguna pool-jumper known as “8booth” was still hobbled more than six months after shattering both feet following a pool jump at Pacific Edge Hotel in December 2016. A video of the incident showed him hitting the edge of the pool, falling into the water, and then crawling away from the scene. He was also charged with trespassing.

Police Files

Local chef injured by hit-and-run driver, grandmother pleads for help finding suspect

A local grandmother reached out to Stu News on the Fourth of July pleading for help in locating a hit and run driver who struck her 26-year-old grandson, also a Laguna Beach resident, on Tuesday night, leaving him injured on the side of the road.

The hit and run happened sometime between 9:20 and 9:30 p.m. on July 3, as the young man was going down the hill from Laguna Terrace, where he lives, approaching the Jewish Temple in the South Laguna shopping center of CVS/Gelson’s. 

If anyone saw anything or might know someone that was in the area at the time, any tip would be helpful.

“My name is Shirleen Blevins; my family and I have been Laguna Beach residents for the past 23 years. I am reaching out to inquire to post a notice in the paper to help find the SUV hit/run driver who hit and left my grandson injured last night,” she said.

According to Blevins, her grandson Andre sustained a fractured right elbow, a right radial head fracture and intensive abrasion of the upper extremity.

“He had some people over; he was taking his skateboard to grab a couple of things at Gelson’s. He was making a turn and someone hit him on the leg hard enough for him to lose his balance causing to him to fly off his board, sliding across the parking lot and ended up facing toward PCH,” Blevins said. “He didn’t have a helmet on but in his mind he was going on a quick trip. Even the doctor said there is no way the vehicle did not feel the impact of hitting Andre.”

Andre is about 6’4” or 6’5” and weighs around 185 lbs. He’s very active and walks to work to his job as a chef at Driftwood. It will take a couple months of rehabilitation to get him back on the job.

“He has abrasions, road rash all across his back and into his shoulder blades. The abrasions are really bad. There is so much swelling from him skidding,” Blevins said. “He’s right-handed, he was going down and tried to break his fall using his hand, where he has abrasions that go up to his forearm and elbow.”

She asked him to walk him through the accident and he said, “I just don’t remember.”

He doesn’t remember the license plate and he didn’t see the driver. He knew something was coming so he served. He was so focused on preventing getting hurt and trying to break the fall. He felt the bump of the car and he went skidding and everything else is just a blur,” Blevins said. “He thinks that the vehicle was an SUV, and maybe that it’s a Mercedes or BMW or something like that.”

She called the accident inhumane, just to leave and not think of the life of another human being.

“He’s really down. He’s really independent and thinks he can take care of himself. So last night when he had a moment of clarity he said, “So I won’t be able to go or make any money for six weeks minimum? It was just that simplistic kind of realization that hit him.”

LBPD really can’t do anything she said because he couldn’t give them any information to go on. 

Stu News has vowed to put the word out.

“We’re such a small town and everybody reads Stu News and everybody talks about everything, and I just thought, if just one person reads this and then maybe passes it on to another person someone might know something,” Blevins said. “That’s what I am hoping for.

“It’s inhumane to not care about the life of another human being. To just leave him there…it’s just not right,” Blevins said.

If you saw something or have any tips at all, please contact LBPD’s Sgt Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671.

“I appreciate your help to find this car/driver. He/she either lives or was visiting someone in Laguna Terrace,” Blevins said.

Let’s make it happen Laguna! We take care of our own!

Second suspect, LBHS grad and local bartender, arrested on felony coke sales charge

A second suspect has been arrested in conjunction with the Wednesday, June 27 LBPD arrest of William Hoglund for an outstanding DUI warrant outside of The Saloon. Hoglund was a security doorman at The Saloon and a search of his person revealed five grams of individually packaged cocaine for sale, according to LBPD. In addition to the warrant, he was charged with possession for sales of a controlled substance.     

LBPD Detectives followed up on the arrest and executed a search warrant at Hoglund’s residence. Inside the home, it was learned that Tyler Benson, 27, was a roommate of Hoglund. A search of Benson’s room revealed additional individually wrapped baggies of cocaine and a large sum of currency. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Over $9,000 in cash was found at their residence.”

Benson was also arrested that same day for felony conspiracy to commit a crime and felony possession for sale of a narcotic or controlled substance.

Police Files Tyler Benson

Courtesy of LBPD

Tyler Benson, 27 was arrested in conjunction with his roommate William Hoglund after a search for drugs and money by LBPD on Wednesday, June 29

Both Hoglund and Benson are employed at separate Laguna Beach bar and restaurant establishments. 

Benson is a graduate of LBHS and was formerly employed as a bartender at a restaurant on Glenneyre Street in downtown prior to his arrest.

“Our Downtown Foot Patrol Team has done a fantastic job developing partnerships with the restaurant and bar management and security throughout our town. This is an example of that partnership paying dividends in keeping our city a safe place to live, work and play,” said Cpt Jeff Calvert, LBPD.

According to public arrest reports, Benson’s bail was set at $25,000.

Hate speech and racial symbols found in backpack of LBUSD juvenile student 

On Monday, July 2, at the 200 block of Ocean Avenue, LBPD received a report of a black backpack sitting outside left unattended for a few hours. The caller told LBPD that they would like the owner to pick it up. Inside they found that the backpack contained an LBUSD laptop and schoolwork. 

“Inside the backpack were drawings of characters displaying racial symbols as well as possible hate speech items,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “A name of a juvenile was located on the school work. The items will be sent to our Juvenile Detective for follow-up.”

Marine Safety Files

A colorful July 4th for Marine Safety, including 59 rescues

LB Marine Safety Cpt Kai Bond said that they have been incredibly busy over the last couple of days, especially on Fourth of July, and warns of dangerously high surf conditions through tonight.

“As far as our rescue count, we had 59 rescues; we had 69 medical aids, 6,592 public contacts and 3,101 prevents, which is when we talk to the public specifically if they are in a precarious situation and prevent them from doing anything that would put them in danger,” Cpt Bond said.

“We had 61 lifeguards working on the 4th. We work 24/7 but our operations began at 6 a.m. and went all the way through the fireworks show,” Cpt Bond said. “We had extras that day in order to deal with the conditions of the 4th of July crowd. I love the 4th; it’s just a really long day.”

As for beach attendance, Cpt Bond said that it’s one of the busiest days. Because of the holiday they saw large crowds as expected.

For the holiday, Laguna experienced warm water temperatures and air temperatures with a high temperature of 74 degrees and the water at about 70 degrees. The surf was 2 to 3 feet and the flag was green.

 Cpt Bond wanted to warn beachgoers about the dangerous high swell that’s occurring through Friday.

“We have a high surf advisory from the National Weather Service,” Cpt Bond said. 

On Thursday night, Laguna’s beaches had an orange surf advisory that will be elevated to a red surf warning and is expected to peak Friday.

“Expect five to eight-foot surf with some larger sets and strong rip currents, he warned. “Make sure to swim near a lifeguard, to check in, and to know your limitations and ability before you head into the water.” 


Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

High surf and strong rip currents are expected though the night today (Friday)

With the high-heat advisory, he expects to see large crowds through the weekend.

To be in the water, Cpt Bond says Marine Safety recommends that a person should be experienced and have two fins and swimming under an open lifeguard tower.

“Because these conditions are for experts only,” Cpt Bond said, “We recommend that people that don’t have the ocean experience and have two fins stay out of the water during these times of elevated surf.”

Although the high surf warning was supposed to expire at 9 p.m. Friday, an updated announcement from the National Weather Service said to expect high surf and strong rip currents expected through the night.

According to the updated warning, “expect 5 to 8 ft along south and southwest facing beaches of Orange and northern San Diego Counties, with occasional sets 10-12 ft at favored locations in Orange County.” 

Partly to blame are the south swells from Tropical Storm Fabio creating high surf at our local beaches and in the area. 

In addition to the surf, strong rip and longshore currents will make swimming hazardous. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore and back toward the beach when possible. Never attempt to swim against a rip current.

Swell and surf will gradually subside this weekend.

Police Files

Bomb on the beach: Boat Canyon evacuated Sunday

On Sunday, July 1, at approximately 11:30 a.m., an officer responded to Boat Canyon Beach amidst reports from lifeguards that a paddleboarder had found a possible phosphorous explosive device in the water.

“A lifeguard reported that the paddleboarder had brought it [the suspicious item] back to the beach,” said LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “The lifeguard suspected it was a military explosive device, so LBPD was contacted. The beach was evacuated and the OCSD bomb squad was called to remove the device from the beach.” 

All access points to the beach were closed until the device was removed.

The field unit responded to the scene.

LB Marine Safety Cpt Kai Bond filled in more details. 

“Marine Safety cleared the beach and asked dispatch to notify the residents in the surrounding area. Because we didn’t know exactly what the device was at that point, we staged away and contacted the OC Sheriff’s Department,” Cpt Bond said. “One of their investigators came down and essentially determined that the suspected explosive device needed to be removed and that’s what they did.”

Police Files Explosive

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo provided by LBPD

A paddleboarder finds an explosive device on Boat Canyon Beach: Marine Safety and LBPD clear the area and call the OC Bomb Squad

“I have seen this type of incident before, but not at a high frequency,” Cpt Bond said. “Remember, if you ‘see something, say something,’ wherever it is, even the beach.”

Once Marine Safety receives a report and gets a visual of the object, they will call in the experts to remove it. 

“That’s not our field as far as determining exactly what it is. We need someone with that type of training,” Cpt Bond said. “Public safety is our number one priority.”

Four-year-old missing for 22 mins near Main Beach, Marine Safety rescues & reunites her with parents

On Saturday, June 30 at 3:42 p.m., at the 400 block of N Coast Highway, Marine Safety received a report of a four-year-old girl missing from Main Beach.

A frantic mother said that her daughter was last seen on the sand about 20 yards South of Main Beach. She described her daughter as having long brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a blue-ish-green one-piece swimsuit. 

Lifeguards and LBPD searched the area, south along the wet sand, checking the front of El Paseo and the Boardwalk, down to Oak and Cleo Street.

“The four-year-old-girl had been separated from her parents right in front of the playground and made her way all the way down to Bird Rock,” LB Marine Safety Cpt Kai Bond said. “The police department and lifeguards located her on the north end of Main Beach by Bird Rock Tower and reunited her with her mother.”

The search and find took 22 minutes, which must have been a long and agonizing time for her parents.

However, Cpt Bond said it’s not that unusual for parents and children to get separated at the beach.

“The best thing they can do is notify a lifeguard so they can get the appropriate resources to search for the missing child,” Cpt Bond said. “I would just urge people to keep a watchful eye on their children at the beach. But for whatever reason, if they are separated, they should notify a lifeguard.”

Saloon owner reaches out to locals after a former employee is arrested for allegedly selling cocaine

Michael Byrne, owner of The Saloon, who also owns Roux restaurant with his wife Cindy, went online to reach out to the community after the recent arrest of doorman, William Hoglund, outside The Saloon for an outstanding DUI warrant and also with cocaine for sale.

Devastated to hear the news, Bryne didn’t waste any time. He immediately responded to the news about his now-former employee.

 “Many of you have read Stu News Laguna today (Friday) and were hopefully shocked to see what was the top lead story. I was sickened. I’m coming on here today to apologize to our community for not being aware of everything that was allegedly going on in my bar,” Byrne said. “I’m embarrassed and have a responsibility for what goes on.”

 Byrne said he personally researched the incident for 36 hours. 

“No one who currently works at The Saloon had any knowledge of what was happening. From the day we took over The Saloon 15 years ago, we have not in any way turned a blind eye to the behavior that can develop in the service industry.”

 He said they were active in enforcing any illegal behavior and have been known as a bar that would never allow a drug atmosphere to survive. 

“Of course, there are things that go on that you can do nothing about because you have no knowledge of a customer’s behavior,” Byrne said. “Robert Doerr, my wife Cindy, and I, and all of our staff will from today forward step up our game to ensure you all that this sort of behavior will not happen again.”

He reiterated that The Saloon is not a drug bar, has never been a drug bar, nor will it ever be a drug bar. 

“This recent misfortune is a one and done,” Byrne said.

 “Meghan Markle” saved by a stranger, reunited with “Prince Harry”

Stu News is happy to let readers know that the trapped kitty reported in Friday’s Police Files is happy and healthy and sitting pretty. We heard the news thanks to reader Karl Williams who contacted Stu News, responding to a plea to contact the editor with information about the kitty. 

Williams is actually the hero rescuer in this only-in-Laguna scenario that ends with a feel-good finale of a freed-feline by a stranger who sprang into action. 

The trapped kitty, Megan Markel, a four-month-old kitten, adopted not long ago with her brother Prince Harry, hid in the wheel well of Susan Pivovaroff’s Jeep, unintentionally making the long hot trek from Whittier to Laguna.

“The woman who owned the car came into LGOCA gallery, where I was working that day. She told me about the cat. I got a screwdriver and ruler and took the panel off above her passenger-side front wheel,” Williams said. “I pulled the cat out and returned it to her. It was lodged in a ball between the side skirt and front panel.”

Pollice Files Cat

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo provided by Susan Pivovaroff

Good Samaritan artist Karl Williams rescues kitty Meghan Markle, who got stuck in the panel of a Jeep, making a long scary trek from Whittier to Laguna Beach

Meghan Markle was covered in dirt, he said. And if the cat was any bigger, she would not have been able to be rescued. But he had her out in six minutes.

“I am still processing it right now that her name is Meghan Markle, well, Miss Markle, this is lucky, very lucky this time. It’s not going to happen again,” Williams said.

“I’ve had a lot sadness lately. And this is just an uplifting – a very unique, sweet story that miracles do happen,” Pivovaroff said. “I cried. It just shows there are angels out there. I am so grateful to Karl.”

She had just got Meghan Markle and Prince Harry two weeks prior after wanting kittens for a long time. Before she pulled out of the driveway of their Whittier home she said she spotted Harry and Meghan playing together, so the coast was clear to hit the coast of Laguna.

“I was driving as fast as I could I couldn’t wait to get here,” Pivovaroff said. 

Meeting relatives in Laguna, they heard a series of meows for help.

“My heart dropped thinking that my kitty was stuck in there,” she said. 

They even called LBPD. They checked everywhere and even brought cat food and water, but to no avail.

After Williams rescued Meghan, Pivovaroff thanked him again for his heroics.

“He said, actually you made my day,” she said. “I felt truly like angels were there.”

Police Files

Bouncer from The Saloon gets bounced for allegedly selling coke

On Wednesday, June 27, in the early morning hours, LBPD patrol officers arrested the doorman of The Saloon, William Hoglund, outside of the downtown bar for an outstanding DUI warrant. 

Police Files Hoglund“A search of Hoglund revealed a cell phone and a container with four small individually wrapped baggies of cocaine,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “Texts on his cell phone revealed conversations of sales of cocaine.”   

The individual baggies of cocaine were approximately 1 gram each for a total of just over 4 grams.

William Anthony Hoglund, 27, of Dana Point, was arrested for Felony Conspiracy to Commit a Crime and Felony Possession for Sale of a Narcotic or Controlled Substance.

“Detectives took the case and wrote a search warrant for his residence,” Sgt Cota said.

According to arrest logs online, no bail was issued.

Under the same case number, it appears that a second person was involved and arrested on similar charges. However, at the time of press, LBPD was not able to comment on this, and said that more information will follow.

Vegas woman arrested for unpaid hotel room charges

On Tuesday, June 26, LBPD officers responded to the Laguna Beach Inn, at the 2000 block of South Coast Highway, where a woman was reportedly refusing to pay her hotel room balance. According to the caller, she became verbally aggressive toward staff.

According to reports, the woman checked in on Monday, June 11, stating that she planned to stay a few days. On Friday, June 15, she extended her stay. On Friday, June 21, she told hotel staff that she wanted to extend her stay again, stating that she wanted to pay in cash.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The hotel did not accept cash, so she provided the same credit card that she checked in with. The card was declined. The staff said she did not care and did not provide another credit card. The woman was identified as Carmen Loera by her Nevada Driver’s License.

“Loera then claimed to have an allergic reaction to fruit and requested medical attention. She denied transportation to the hospital,” Sgt Cota said.

Police Files Loera“When the staff stated that they needed to discuss her balance, Loera said she had an agreement for $2,800 dollars for a month, but the general manager disputed this agreement was ever made,” Sgt Cota said.

“Loera claimed that the general manager stole her money and that she did not have a balance,” Sgt Cota said. 

According to Sgt Cota, “When Loera’s credit card was confirmed, she tried to avoid the issue or claim to have a medical problem. The total balance of her stay was $1,233.77. The hotel was desirous of prosecution.”

Carmen Reina Loera, 47, of Las Vegas, was arrested for Refusing to Leave a Hotel – Trespassing, a misdemeanor, and for Defrauding an Innkeeper of over $400, a felony.

She was transported to the LBPD where she was booked. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

Animal Files

Poor cat gets stuck, pinned and trapped in an SUV 

On Sunday, June 24 at 3:02 p.m., LBPD received a call from a woman at the 600 block of S Coast Highway, about her cat being stuck up inside her vehicle.

The woman told LBPD that her cat was lost inside her white Jeep Cherokee between the frame and the panel.

To make things worse, the cat had been stuck inside the SUV all the way since Whittier, a 40-mile trip. Poor kitty endured such a cat-a-strophic traverse! 

Meowing out for help, the cat could be heard but not seen.

According to reports, Animal Services was unable to extract the cat from the car. However, the cat’s dad, the caller’s husband, was a mechanic and would be driving to the scene to dislodge the cat.

Unfortunately, police logs ended there, and attempts to reach Animal Services for confirmation on the current status of the cat were unsuccessful.

If anyone has an update on the kitty, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Coyote mom and five pups show up to Laguna Beach home uninvited

On Tuesday, June 26 at 8:19 a.m., at the 3100 block of Via Serena, LBPD received a call about a coyote sighting, actually coyotes. The incident was reported to have occurred the night before, on Monday, at approximately 7:30 p.m. 

According to reports, the resident saw a coyote mom and her five pups up close and in person on their patio. The caller was concerned that the pack might hurt their animals and asked Animal Services to try to track the pack. “We [were] hurt by them last month,” the caller said.

Police Files Coyotes

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo found on Twitter posted by “Pete Fisher"

Coyote pups showed up uninvited to a Laguna Beach home on Tuesday with their mom

A similar incident occurred the day before in North Laguna, on Tuesday, June 26 at 9:23 a.m., at the 31100 block of Holly Street – except this time, the uninvited guests were bobcats.

The caller reported to LBPD that a bobcat and three cubs were “hanging out on Holly Street in the driveway.”

Police Files

Uber driver injures passenger, ejecting her from car

On Saturday, June 23 at 6:22 p.m., LBPD received a battery call from a distraught woman in the 20200 block of Laguna Canyon Road, who reported that she had been pushed out of a car by an Uber driver resulting in injuries to her arm and legs. According to police logs, the woman requested medics and waited at the entrance of the park for help to arrive. The Uber driver left about 10 minutes prior to her calling LBPD.

The woman told officers that the Uber ride was requested from a friend’s phone, and that she had information about the reported suspect. He was driving a black 2016 4-door Nissan with both Uber and Lyft stickers. She also gave LBPD his license plate number.

According to LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock, “The Uber driver was driving inbound LCR and reported getting frustrated that his passenger was watching a video on her iPhone.”

“The driver pulled the car over and pulled the female from the vehicle causing some injuries, and complaint of pain,” Villwock said. “The female passenger was not intoxicated.”

According to Villwock, LBPD is forwarding a recommendation to the District Attorney’s Office for charges against the Uber driver.

Fire Files

Fire on Manzanita Saturday prompts neighborhood evacuations

On Saturday, June 23 at 3:44 p.m., LBFD and LBPD were dispatched to a structure fire in the 800 block of Manzanita Drive, just above the high school tennis courts. Emergency services received a call from the residents, who reported that there was heavy smoke in the upstairs bedroom.

LBPD officers arrived first and quickly evacuated the home, along with neighboring homes on all three sides of the primary residence, and blocked off both ends of Manzanita.

The fire was quickly upgraded to a working fire by LBFD, with reports that the fire was spreading and “coming from the rear side.”

Accordingly, evacuations were then quickly made for rear homes on Skyline Drive.

LBFD arrived shortly after and were able to knock down the fire quickly, containing it to a single residence.

Fire Gene Felder

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Michael Ellis

Black smoke billowed and flames rose from a home on Manzanita Drive on Saturday afternoon, a scary sight for residents

LBFD Chief Mike Garcia gave a timeline of the fire.

“Time of alarm was 3:44 p.m. and knockdown time was 4:01 p.m.,” Chief Garcia said. “It is estimated the fire started 10 minutes prior to dispatch time and the residents tried to extinguish the fire with multiple fire extinguishers prior to the first 911 call.”

LBFD dispatched a total number of 17 fire personnel, including one Battalion Chief, four LBFS Fire Engines, an ORCO Truck, and one ambulance to the scene.

 “We had a “working fire” assignment coming to the incident but [it] was shortly cancelled,” LBFD Chief Mike Garcia said.

Nine people were displaced from the residence, including seven adults and two minors, as well as two dogs and a pet snake. 

“One of the minor children was medically evaluated on scene for possible smoke exposure concerns; parents signed A.M.A.,” Chief Garcia said.

At 4:04 p.m., the Southern California Gas Company was contacted with an estimated 40 to 45 minute arrival time.

The Red Cross was contacted at 4:17 p.m. to help out the displaced residents.

Fire Johanna Felder

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Johanna Ellis

Saturday’s house fire on Manzanita Drive lands a yellow tag designation, deemed “un-habitational” with $125,000 in damages

The fire is estimated to have caused $125,000 in damages to the home and its contents, according to Chief Garcia. The Laguna Beach Building Division red tagged the entire second story along with the deck and the remaining home was yellow tagged for “un-habitational.”

“The cause is unknown and is still under investigation,” Chief Garcia said. 

Luckily, no injuries were reported.

FYI Files

Scoop on La Mirada house “arrest”

Buzzing all over social media…here’s the updated scoop on Saturday’s La Mirada house “arrest.”

On Saturday, June 23 in the morning, a post was made on Nextdoor regarding two people in the 1200 block of La Mirada near Summit being arrested. 

According to the post, “Undercover cops arrested two people at La Mirada near Summit this morning. They gathered some attention while staging at the corner of Ensenada and Miramar...The duo was renting the house and apparently the owners live in New Orleans.”

But the "undercover cops" were not so undercover; they were bail bond agents.

According to LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock, “These were not undercover cops they are private bail enforcement agents who were working on behalf of a bail bonds company and were there to serve two warrants. The company notified us prior to making contact with the subjects. Since we did not make the arrest we don’t have any details on the specific charges or subject’s names.”

“They were working on behalf of a bail bonds company who were following up on individuals evading charges,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

“Without confirming their credentials from the company, most personnel that work in this field attend PC 832 courses and get certified in arrest powers and laws of arrest. This course allows civilians the training certificate to make arrests for a bail bonds company,” Sgt Cota said. “Many are known as bounty hunters. This is legal and they work under the umbrella of a bail bonds company.”

Civilians take this course that work for bail bonds companies. The Arrest and Firearms (PC 832) course consists of two components, which total a minimum of 64 hours. The Arrest component has a 40-hour requirement, and the Firearms component has a 24-hour requirement. These components are divided into 14 individual topics, called Learning Domains. 

The Learning Domains contain the minimum required foundational information for given subjects. The training and testing specifications for a particular domain may also include information on required instructional activities and testing requirements.

Sounds like a case of drama ripe for cable, “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

Police Files

Human smuggling strikes at Crystal Cove, second Panga boat since June 11, El Morro goes on lockdown

On Tuesday, June 19 at 6:31 a.m., LBPD received a call from California State Parks in reference to a Panga boat landing at Crystal Cove State Park, the second in just a little over a week. The boat’s passengers had fled the scene. 

LBPD worked alongside the US Customs and Border Patrol and the State of California Department of Parks and Recreations with assistance from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter and US Coast Guard. The involved agencies conducted a thorough search of the wilderness area of the state park and located and detained four adult male subjects, who were detained by the US Customs and Border Patrol.

Police Files Panga 1

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD helps out other emergency agencies and US Customs and Border Patrol as a second smuggling event happens, causing a lockdown at El Morro Elementary

Out of caution, El Morro Elementary School was placed on a lockdown. Parents and buses were allowed to drop off students at the school, who were then provided an escort to their classroom. Laguna Beach Police Department kept officers on campus throughout the incident. Shortly before 10 a.m. the lockdown was lifted and normal operations resumed.

Theron Francisco, a public affairs officer for the San Diego Customs and Border Protection sector, talked with Stu News about the incident.

“It hasn’t been confirmed but it is probably associated with the same Pan-National smuggling organization [as the June 11 incident, also at Crystal Cove],” Francisco said.

He said most of the smuggling operations are coming from Rosarito or Ensenada, that part of Mexico, just South of Tijuana.

 “For the most part, they want to try to come to shore or drop off as close as possible to Tijuana, or just north of the boundary,” Francisco said. “It’s closer, it’s faster, and it’s cheaper for their operation as far as gas, manpower and the boat.”

He said ideally these operations would like to drop off somewhere in San Diego along the coastal regions of San Diego. 

“But as enforcement gets greater they’re forced to go further north and so that’s where we’re kind of seeing them going up more north toward Laguna Beach and the area where they were just last spotted this week,” Francisco said.

When they do make apprehensions, everybody that’s apprehended is interviewed. 

“If we do get the captain of the vessel or the smuggler caught within the group, he or she will be charged with alien smuggling and endangerment, and the rest of the individuals on the boat will face immigration charges unless they have anything outstanding as far as criminal charges,” Francisco said. “They can face additional charges on that.” 

Police Files Panga 2

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

US Customs and Border Patrol think that the June 11 human smuggling incident and the June 19 incident at Crystal Cove are related, five still outstanding

No substantial evidence is usually left behind on the boats. They will leave empty cans of fuel, water, lifejackets, trash, food they might not eat or wet clothes. 

“But as far as personal items, identification, foreign passports and all that is usually kept with them,” Francisco said. “For the most part they have minimal belongings, usually a backpack or some type of bag. They will not leave anything personal with them. They carry minimal items with them just because it keeps down the weight on the boat and something that if they do land on the beach they can run off with just the backpack or the bag.”

Regarding Tuesday’s incident, initially four men were apprehended with five still outstanding, he said.

“I haven’t gotten the update whether the five were apprehended later on or if any were apprehended later on,” Francisco said.

He doesn’t believe drugs were involved in this case. 

“This one was just suspected as alien or human smuggling. We don’t believe it was connected to a drug smuggling,” Francisco said. “Even though they both will kind of go hand-in hand; we believe both of them were human smuggling. Again, that hasn’t been confirmed and I would have to look into the case once that’s done to see if anything is different from the interviews from those who were arrested.”

LBPD bands together helping Marine get undrivable car back to Camp Pendleton, officer pays for his tow home out of his own pocket

Once again, LBPD gives a hand for the sake of helping others. On Wednesday, June 20 at 7:28 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the 3200 block of Laguna Canyon Road with a report of a stranded vehicle. The owner of the vehicle was an active U.S. Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton. 

The vehicle, a black 2014 Chevy Impala, was undriveable.

“The owner did not have sufficient funds to have it towed. Officers used their personal AAA privileges to have the vehicle towed part of the way and paid the $333 balance to have it towed the remaining distance to Camp Pendleton,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

It’s always good to know someone has your back, especially for having the country’s back every day as a Marine. Thanks for serving.

Police Files Marine

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD officers, including Wade Kraus, help a Marine with his disabled Impala, covering the cost to have it towed back to Camp Pendleton

Gun found in cave at Thousand Steps Beach

On Sunday, June 17 at 9:10 a.m., at the 31900 block of Coast Highway, a man reported to LBPD that he found a revolver, a Taurus .38 special, in the sound end of the beach in the sand. The man hid the gun in a cup unit he could meet with LBPD. He was unsure if it was loaded.

“He telephoned police who took custody of it. Detectives are reaching to agencies to see if this weapon was used or suspected in any crime,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

So not Laguna, Montage gets tagged twice by “KEV(AN)”

On Monday, June 18 at 5:04 p.m., in the 30800 block of Coast Highway, LBPD received a report of vandalism (tagging) at Treasure Island Park at Montage Laguna Beach.

“The reporting person was Montage Security who reported that two separate benches were spray painted on one side with “KC” and “KEVAN” and other illegible letters,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The estimated cost to repair is $150.”

There is no camera surveillance in this area.

The next day, on Tuesday, June 19 at 3:45 p.m., a second vandalism incident was reported to LBPD at Treasure Island Park at the Montage.

“There was random chalk writing on the back of a beach sign that read, “WDS RANDOM SCRIBLE,” Sgt Cota said. “And spray paint on several concrete trash cans that read, “FMK”, “TAZ”, “ANYOS”, and “KEV.”

 According to Sgt Cota, Montage Laguna Beach will be responsible for maintenance, which is estimated at $5,000-$6,000.

Police Files

Father’s Day crash lands dad and daughter in ER

On Sunday, June 17 at 11:08 a.m., Laguna Beach Police and Fire personnel responded to a traffic collision involving an overturned vehicle at Vista Del Sol and Coast Highway. 

Reporting parties estimated that the driver at fault, not the injured father and daughter, was traveling 90-100 mph on Coast Highway at the time of the collision.

Police Files Accident

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

A careening car traveling at speeds up to 100 mph on Coast Highway collides with a daughter and dad on Father’s Day

“It was determined a reckless driver had caused the collision by sideswiping another vehicle causing that vehicle to overturn. Both the driver and his daughter, not at fault, were taken to Mission Hospital – Laguna Beach for their injuries,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The father suffered a laceration on his leg and the daughter suffered a broken finger.”

The driver deemed at fault, Aaron Van Korlaar, 26, Rancho Santa Margarita, was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and taken into custody. 

“Several of our officers working that day are Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). The suspect was evaluated in the field and at the station and determined to be under the influence of a depressant. No alcohol was detected and nothing was found in the vehicle,” Sgt Cota said. “He gave a blood sample per law requirements.”

According to LBPD, Van Korlaar was taken straight to OC Jail and bail was set at $100,000.

However, upon booking at OC Jail, he was released without bail and with no charges pending.

When asked for a statement regarding his release without charges, Michelle Van Der Linden, OCDA Spokesperson said, “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office bears an ethical responsibility to file only those charges that are supported by the evidence and can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt with in a court of law.

“Upon review of the evidence this particular case was referred back to the Laguna Beach Police department for further investigation. The OCDA maintains the ability to file charges at a later date.”

Summer canine curfew: dogs are nixed from beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Sept 10

Move over Rover, the free roving beach days are over at least from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through September 10. Over the weekend, dogs were dogged with the unwelcome news on the City’s Facebook Page, “Sorry doggies, as of today you have to wait until 6 p.m. to be on the beach. It’s a seasonal rule, June 15 - Sept 10, that is part of our Municipal Code. After 6 p.m. and before 9 a.m., dogs are welcome on our sandy shores, though like everywhere in Laguna they must be on a leash.” #lagunabeach #beachlife #dogs

Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator, explained the “dogs on beaches” ordinance to Stu News to help locals settle down scruffy, which can be a toughie for pups excited to play on the sandy beaches any time of day.

Why is this policy in place?

“Because the beaches are so crowded with visitors and beachgoers, it is not safe to have dogs on the beach during those days and times. Between June 15 and September 10, dogs can be on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. as long as they are on leash,” Beres said. 

The sole exception is Thousand Steps Beach, where dogs are never allowed. The county has banned dogs at Thousand Steps all day, year round.

“Dogs are never allowed off leash at any time on City beaches and all the other county beaches follow the same rules the City beaches do,” Beres said. “They are allowed off leash at the Dog Park in Laguna Canyon, and they are allowed off leash on private property, provided it is fenced.”

Police Files Dog

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Over the busy summer months, canine curfew at Laguna beaches is in effect, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through September 10

According to Beres, the “dogs on leashes only” ordinance was first adopted in 1978 with the most recent revision in 2011. The fines are tiered based on the number of offenses cited within a 12-month time frame. The first offense is $100, the second is $200 and the third is $500.

What about Emerald Bay and Irvine Cove, what are the dog rules there?

“Emerald Bay is in the county’s unincorporated area, so the county’s rules would apply there. Irvine Cove is within the City, so all the City rules apply [there] just like any other public City beach,” Beres said.

For Fidos that drool at the prospect of ruling the beach supreme, the prospect is a pipe dream. 

Has the City discussed a year-round dog beach?

“It has been discussed on occasion, but there are no appropriate locations in Laguna Beach for a dog beach,” Beres said. 

Is this something that would need to originate with Council? Is this a possibility for the future?

“They have addressed that issue in the past, but there is just nowhere in Laguna Beach that would be appropriate for a dog beach. There is a great dog beach in Huntington Beach, but the difference is there are no homes near the Huntington Beach dog beach,” Beres said. “In Laguna Beach, we have residents who live by all of our beaches. In addition, we have a state Marine Protected Area off our coast that prohibits disturbing the marine environment, and that prohibition applies to dogs as well.”

 He said the City typically receives a handful of complaints from residents about dogs chasing wildlife at the beaches or in the tidepools every year, and that this is a violation of the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, as well as the state Marine Protected Area.

Snake Files

Slip, sliding, and slithering away: snakes are here to stay, so be careful and keep them at bay

On Wednesday, June 13 at 2:02 p.m., a business in the 400 block of Forest Avenue called LBPD to report a snake inside the wall. Described as a stray, the snake decided to move away, first outside the business, then on to the street, the busy snake was reportedly quite fast on its feet.

At 2:08 p.m., six minutes later, LBPD received another call that the same snake was busy on the crawl. But instead of being witnessed on lower ground, the snake had lofty ambitions, so on the gutter above he was found. Now three feet of the snake was up on display, yes, that crazy snake-artist described as yellow and grey. 

Then, at 2:39 p.m., a third call came in. It seems that the snake-capades were not at the end. The snake it turns out they finally did catch, and Animal Services was requested to come out and fetch. 

More on Wednesday, at the 800 block of Diamond Street at 3:53 p.m., another snake call was reported to LBPD. A woman found a large snake in her garage and asked for help to get it out. Then she learned it was a gopher snake and decided she would “leave it on her property.”

Another snake call came in to LBPD on Wednesday, June 13. This one was at the 30800 block of Coast Highway at 3:54 p.m. when a snake was reportedly found at a resident’s front door. Cited as a 601 by LBPD, that trespassing snake was Gone on Arrival, instinct must have kicked in, pure survival.

Wednesday’s “local snake sighting day” continued ironically at 6:13 p.m. (on June 13). Located at the 21600 block of Ocean Vista Drive another rattler came visiting a resident’s front door. However, this time it was a baby rattler, capricious to the core, that quickly decided to hide underneath the pot by the door. 

On Thursday, June 14 at 3:32 p.m., at the 100 block of Irvine Cove Place, LBPD received a call from a resident reporting that it had a snake in custody. The snake was placed in a box on the driveway and it was requested that Animal Services take it from there.

On Thursday, June 14 at 4:51 p.m., the roil of the coil continued at the 2000 block of Temple Hills Drive, where LBPD received a report of a rattlesnake in a resident’s front yard. The stray snake might have lost its way, but today was not its day, put in custody, the poor guy would stay.

Competing with “wild snake Wednesday,” Thursday, June 14 came in a close second with another call to LBPD at 9:19 p.m., at the 2200 block of Laguna Canyon Road. A rattlesnake was found cruising the courtyard at the main campus at LCAD, filled with dreams of someday becoming an artist grad. The rabbits and racoons laughed, calling it a cad. The whole incident would have been funny if it wasn’t so darn sad.

On Friday, June 15 at 6:33 p.m., at the 2400 block of Laguna Canyon Road, a rattlesnake was reported just in time for happy hour. The rattler was seen making the rounds first in the backyard, then at the side of the house, this snake was social, no meek mouse.

Police Files

Laguna woman held at gunpoint at home by two armed suspects in home invasion demanding drugs, guns, and money

On Monday, June 11 at 11:06 p.m., in the 20000 Block of Laguna Canyon Road, LBPD received a 9-1-1 call from a resident reporting she had been the victim of a home invasion robbery moments prior.

The victim, a 71-year-old Laguna Beach woman, was home alone during the attack. While still partially bound, tied up with her hands behind her back, she informed dispatchers that the two men dressed in all black, wearing black ski masks, entered her home and held a handgun to her head demanding drugs and money.

“One of the suspects was believed to be Hispanic by his accent. A gun was held to her head at one point,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cot. “The suspects stole three guns from the residence, two handguns and one shotgun that belonged to her son-in-law.”

Approximately $55 in cash was also stolen.

“She received minor injuries, cuts to her wrists and her hands due to being tied up and to her face, but did not want medical attention,” Sgt Cota said.

The victim, who lives in a single-family home, said they were ransacking her house for approximately 30 minutes before fleeing the area.

Police Files Home Invasion

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD 

One of two suspects caught on camera via the victim’s home security camera during a home invasion robbery in the Canyon on Monday

During her 9-1-1 call, the victim reported that she no longer heard the suspects but that she could hear her dogs barking in the front yard.

In regard to the suspects’ identities, one of the suspect’s “nose looks pretty large,” said Sgt Cota.

Whether there were any drugs stolen from the home is still under investigation.

“I cannot comment on specifics; this is active investigation. Citizens in the city should not have fear because this house and occupants were their target,” Sgt Cota said. “We believe this to be an isolated incident and we are seeking the public’s assistance to identify the suspects.”

If any residents have any tips they should call LBPD at (949) 497-0701, Investigations Sergeant Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

Eagle Scout and friends help save a stranger’s life at Pearl Street Beach

In Tuesday’s edition of Police Files it was reported that a good Samaritan rescued a man at Pearl Street Beach. It turns out there were several good Samaritans who together helped save a man’s life, including three local boy scouts.

The victim’s stepmother reached out to Stu News and wanted to thank the good Samaritans who quickly reacted to help save her stepson’s life on Saturday, June 10 at Pearl Street Beach. 

“The Good Samaritan that quickly started CPR was Coleton Sofonio (EMT). This young man and the three others who pulled my stepson from the water, and the amazing response time from the EMTs, without a doubt saved my stepson’s life,” she said. “Please give a shout of praise, as I am so grateful.”

Nik Tanski, 16, an Eagle Scout, and Alexander Kupfer-Weinstein, 16, two Laguna Niguel teens, were integral to the rescue.

Out on summer break from Dana Hills High School, they hit Laguna Beach last Saturday with friends to enjoy the large surf. Little did they know how their lives would forever change.

Police Files Nik Tanski

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nik Tanski 

Nik Tanski, an Eagle Scout, said his scouting skills helped him save a man’s life, including knowing CPR

“There was a swell with some pretty big waves. But my friend said they watched him [the victim] jump in to the far left of Pearl Street where there’s a lot of shallow water and rocks. They weren’t sure what to think of it,” Tanski said. 

Tanski didn’t see it happen but heard his friend yelling for help.

“He was yelling, help, help, lifeguard help. I looked over and saw him holding [the victim] by the chest area trying to keep his head out of the water. And I ran over to help and grabbed [the victim’s] legs,” Tanski recalled. 

Two other friends, Nicholas Rigo and Noah Rigo, helped carry the victim out of the water to a safer spot on the shore. 

Police Files Three Heroes

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nik Tanski 

Pictured form left to right: Nicholas Rigo, Noah Rigo, and Nikolas Tanski ran to help save a man rescuing him at the beach and performing first aid 

“I yelled for someone to support his neck. Colton, an EMT who happened to be at the beach, heard our calls and ran in to support his neck,” Tanski said. “Colton started chest compressions, soon after I switched with him, continuing chest compressions. I just remember not hesitating; I just jumped in and started.”

Tanski remembers telling his friends to call 9-1-1 and get the lifeguards.

“It’s definitely an experience that I will never forget. I am really thankful that I got to help. Through scouting I’ve done so many merit badges where they teach and reinforce the basics of CPR and first aid. I don’t think I would have ever known what to do or had the confidence to do that [administer CPR and save a life] without scouting,” Tanski said. “It really was an eye-opener to how beneficial scouting is in life. And also just the necessity to be safe especially when dealing with Mother Nature. I’m just really glad I was in the right place at the right time and able to help him.” 

It is quite an achievement to be an Eagle Scout. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill. Interestingly, of the 312 pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1958, 180 were Scouts and 40 were Eagle Scouts (including moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Charles Duke).

Running over to the victim, Kupfer-Weinstein was first on scene and recounted what he experienced that day.

Police Files Alexander

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Malia Kho

Quick action by Dana Hills student Alexander Kupfer-Weinstein helped save a life

“One of my friends saw something. I guess he hit a rock. He was facedown in the water,” Kupfer-Weinstein said. “I sprinted over to make sure he was all right. I turned him over and started dragging him our way when a wave hit us and knocked us over. But I got back up and my friends helped me. It was pretty scary.”

Their friend Andrew Reavis ran and got help.

“He ran to get a lifeguard. He was the one who ran almost to the other end of the beach to get a lifeguard. He just sprinted over there,” said Kupfer-Weinstein. “I never thought about it. I’ve heard stories, but I see it happening to somebody else and it’s kind of taken me aback. I thought immediately, after that, I need to take CPR lessons. Because if it happens again, I am not going to be able to do anything unless I learn CPR. It’s life changing.”

Tanski and his friends frequent the beaches in Laguna.

“I like surfing in Laguna, all the beaches are fantastic. We’ve been going all day almost every day. With the swell hitting it’s been so much fun,” Tanski said. “But it’s really been any eye-opening experience that anything can happen. You’ve just got to be careful out there.”

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

Scott Brashier is our photographer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


© 2019 Stu News Laguna - All Rights Reserved.